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High-Performance Training for Sports called "A Seminal Work"

I have been reviewing books for more than a thick set pudgy decade. Possibly, some hundreds of books have been perused and commented upon. My philosophy has always been if a book is published it must have some merit, otherwise it would wither on the vine of failed ambition. The value of books varies from a constricted interest for constricted people to universal ‘must have' tomes. There is nothing more priceless than the gifts of good health and education. Coaches must continue to self-educate to validate their existence. An opportunity has arisen. It is entitled High- Performance Training for Sports. Buy it!


Human Kinetics must be congratulated for publishing this ambitious text. This is a ‘must have' text for it is superb!! There are two editors who probably remain in a comatose state to this day, exhausted by the process of editing multiple personalities and their work. The twenty four chapters were authored by twenty nine authorities/experts drawn from Europe, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada  and the United States - all fifty of them!  The Preface defines them as "a globally respected group of diverse professionals coming together to contribute to a singular work." This is universality at its peak. The background of the contributors is diverse such as university lecturers and researchers armed with the standard PhD, sports trainers and coaches for highly professional elite sports, and world authorities like David Martin, Jeremy Sheppard and Greg Haff. Strength and Conditioning specialists abound. It is rare for Human Kinetics to venture beyond US borders to recruit distinguished contributors.


There are three parts to High-Performance Training for Sports. Part I is "Building Robust Athletes." There are seven chapters seemingly in chronological, developmental order. Chapter I evaluates athletic capacities. This is a test for assessment purposes. Following chapters are a cogent sequence - developing young athletes; how to enhance movement efficiency; catering for core stability; optimising flexibility specific to focal sports and what to do to re-enter injured athletes into a training program.


It is impossible to pay due credence to the specifics contained in 24 chapters, an impossible task. Part II is "Developing Athletic Capacity". This time it is an assemblage of ten chapters. This decade commences with customising the warm-up. Once warmed, the chapters progress to: using strength platforms for explosive performance; translating strength into speed; optimising jump training; improving agility and the familiar tenets developing aerobic/anaerobic capacity and finally, optimising cross training methods.


Part II is a rich lode.


It is easy to recognise the editorial control of the chapters. Keywords resonate: developing; enhancing; optimising; boosting; generating; customising; fine tuning...throughout. They reflect the heartiness and the positive thrust of this 'robust text'. Two aspects must be identified. All academic works must be inundated with acknowledging the source of reference material. Plagiarism is rife and academia is diligent and punitive. Standard academic texts are horrible to read. They have no place on your chosen beach. They are horrible due to the distracting incessant source reference dwelling beside the textual content. Too often the language is obscure. It's like reading the report sheet after an MRI. This is not the case here. All chapter references are 'glued' to the back cover from page 331 to 355 to keep them safe and separate. One must be grateful. This enables the text to flow. Whatever the chapter and whoever the author, the editorial control over the level of English is brilliant. You can read this book in comfort free of frustration...and read you must!


Part III is "Delivering Performance," a segment of seven chapters. It continues the seamless amalgam of training entities. Contained within this cryptic collection are program planning; designing energy specific programs; optimising team sports pre-season training; peaking tenets for individual sports; maintaining within season conditioning and finally, recovery techniques for high performance athletes. But why cryptic? Glenn Stewart from the West Coast Eagles wrote a chapter called "Minimising the Interference Effect." What does this mean? For endurance sports with body contact, there is conflict between the demands for aerobic fitness and improving strength and hypertrophy to withstand the shock of contact. Until recent times, physiologists believed this duality was impossible as one was contra to the other - a classic antithesis. More enlightened experts now accept a synthesis is possible. It is called concurrent training. Glenn defines it as:


"The specific training of endurance and strength capacities in immediate succession or with up to 24 hours recovery separating the two exercise modes." (Page 269)


Glenn has several crucial observations. To flog both indices at the same time will dampen both endurance and hypertrophy/strength. The wave periodisation system is best suited to concurrent training. It allows frequent adjustment to training load and intensity. Highly trained athletes experience more ' interference' than untrained. This is more so in strength than aerobic work. Developing athletes can make great gains in aerobic and strength training.






Peter Lawler, Australian Track & Field Coaches Association